Okonkwo’s career day pushes women’s basketball to WNIT quarterfinals

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Amy Okonkwo poured in a career-high 36 points and 14 rebounds, including 10 points in the final 1:04, as TCU women’s basketball defeated Arkansas 82-78 to advance to the WNIT quarterfinals for the second-straight season.

“She’s [Okonkwo] just such a tough matchup for a lot of people,” head coach Raegan Pebley said.  “Seniors help you this time of year.”

The senior’s 36 points were the most-ever by a Horned Frog in the postseason (male or female).

It was a rocky start in the game for TCU, as the Horned Frogs failed to score in the first four minutes. Okonkwo started a run in which TCU made their next seven shots to put themselves back in the game and only down seven, 25-18, at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter went back and forth, with the Horned Frogs staying alive but struggling to take a lead with center Jordan Moore in foul trouble. They were able to win the scoring advantage in the quarter though, and they headed into the halftime break only down five points, 44-39.

TCU looked ready to play coming out of the locker room, tying the game at 44 almost immediately. An Arkansas run gave them the lead back later in the period, but TCU was within striking distance with ten minutes left, down just 58-56.

Knowing that it was win or go home, the teams traded punches in the fourth-quarter battle. Behind sharp offensive play, the Horned Frogs were able to produce the knockout punch — a 10-0 run in the final minute to all but put the Razorbacks away.

Any chance that Arkansas had of coming back was halted by 8-8 shooting from the free throw line by TCU in the last 46 seconds, and the Horned Frogs stole a game in which they only led for 4:38.

“The strong message is chin up and securely place that chip right on your shoulder,” Pebley said of the team’s effort in the WNIT. “If you really want to prove that you should’ve been in [the NCAA tournament], you gotta go put your money where your mouth is.”

After struggling from the free throw line early in the season, the Horned Frogs went 23-25 from the charity stripe in the contest. 

Alongside Okonkwo, Lauren Heard, Jayde Woods and Adeola Akomolafe combined for 34 points in the victory.

The come-from-behind win gives TCU their first-ever win in Fayetteville.  They were previously 0-13.

Moving on to the quarterfinals, the Horned Frogs will return home for a matchup with Cincinnati on March 31. Tipoff at Schollmaier Arena is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday.

“Now the message is ‘Don’t be satisfied,’” Pebley said.  “We didn’t come in this to win a couple of games. We’re in it to win it.”